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Let’s talk: My business rules



Featured | Leadership | Let's Talk

By Loren Webb

Today’s Let’s Talk segment asks “how to nurture business growth through team bonding?”

In the early stages of developing your business, how to grow it is a constant thought and worry – amongst many other things like turning a profit, gaining funding and hiring the right people. 

With business growth, we often reference how financial growth or team growth can build a business as these are both two easy-to-measure drivers. More countable funds, more countable heads in room equals a bigger business, right?

In one sense yes, however the foundations of your business are made up of your existing people, and a business like a building can only really grow from its foundations. Perhaps team bonding is over-looked as a growth tool, however if we consider the impact a passionate team can have versus an apathetic one in advocating your business, it becomes apparent that team bonding does nurture business growth just like funding, hiring and tech does.

So, now we pass over to the experts to learn how you can pull off successful business-growing team bonding.


John Ahern, CEO, InfoTrack

Never underestimate the power of caring for those in your team. Our leading value at InfoTrack is to care about what we do and the people we work with. We encourage a culture of no bad ideas and we offer plenty of opportunities for all employees to bond with one another. Whether it be twice-weekly company wide lunch or Friday morning bacon and egg rolls, getting everyone together fosters team bonding and the sharing of ideas. New perspectives help nurture the growth of our business. A key example of this is our Hackathons that we run three times a year. This allows our development team to come up with new products that the rest of the company vote on and the winning team can develop and implement their idea. This positions InfoTrack as a technology innovator, using the brainpower of our team to grow our company.

David Pich, CEO of of the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand, author of Leading Well 

These days there is an interesting distinction made between management and leadership. Management being seen as managing a process, and leadership being the management of people. Processes don’t operate on passion, personality or motivation. And that’s why it’s absolutely vital for leaders to connect with their teams. People will always form a large part of any strategy because it is the people who take the plan off the page and convert that into results. You cannot hope to ‘lead’ and achieve success unless the people who power your strategy trust you. And how can anyone trust someone they don’t know?

Karen Gately, founder of Corporate Dojo and author of The People Manager’s Toolkit 

The strength of a team’s spirit undeniably influences the standard of performance they are able to achieve, including in reaching ambitious growth targets.  When people are energised and unified in a mission, they are entirely more likely to collaborate, engage in healthy robust debate, devise effective solutions and win in a competitive world. Among the most important influencers of a team’s spirit are relationships built on trust and respect, as well as belief in the future.  Take steps to ensure trust in both the character and competence of the people you have on the team is strong.  Unify people in a mission they can believe in and help them to see what they can collectively achieve if they choose to.

Paul Murray, Chief Operating Officer at idSafe and Wontok

“Team building is critical for any business – nurturing and retaining talent is important, as well as ensuring that a team collaborates well. You can’t afford friction in any team set up, especially if it’s small. The better people work together, the more ideas and innovation they generate, the more productive they are, and the business wins. “Investing in people, particularly in soft skills, is one way to achieve this. To be a team player, you need to know how to communicate effectively at all levels. Empowering everyone is also key: no team member should feel that their opinion counts less or that their role is less important. Success requires everyone working together and supporting one another. “Creating a common vision and developing common goals also helps develop team cohesion. All team members should take part in setting goals, as well as achieving them. Recognising and rewarding team success will motivate continued productivity, fuelling growth.”

Kirsty Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer at Cohort Go

It’s no surprise that cohesive teams grow strong businesses, which is why creating opportunities for team members to bond is so important to developing a successful company. Recently, Cohort Go took part in a customer journey mapping exercise, and we used it as an opportunity to collaborate and break down the siloed thinking that can sometimes form within a growing business. The core purpose of the workshop was to capture opportunities for customer growth, but it also allowed us to create closer ties across business functions. From the CEO to CFO, sales, engineering and marketing – key individuals from across the business worked together to create a shared vision and think outside the confines of their usual roles. When people begin to think about customer issues and experiences in a more holistic way, we’re able to garner more buy-in and engagement from our team members. By setting up regular opportunities for team bonding, we can walk a mile in the shoes of our customers, as well as our team mates.

Celeste Kocabay, Talent Manager, Investible

When done right, team bonding activities create impactful moments of team connection and over time, can have a significant, positive impact on your business.

It’s particularly important when you consider how many businesses struggle to engage and retain employees. Effective team bonding improves employee engagement, motivation and workplace satisfaction. It also helps nurture collaboration and resilience in your team, all of which benefits overall productivity and creativity of the business.

Most people think of team bonding as fun, social events and many businesses limit team bonding to a nice lunch or round of drinks. But true team bonding initiatives are an opportunity for employees to get out of their normal routine and step out of their comfort zone. It breaks up the status quo and encourages your team to collaborate and communicate in new ways. The activity might even help your team members accomplish something new, challenge pre-existing ideas within the culture, work together across business units or simply take time to de-stress and have some out-of-the-box fun. Regardless of the goal, it’s easy to see how the impact of these initiatives is greater than the sum of its parts.

Andrew Laurie, entrepreneur, CEO and elite business coach

Team bonding gets a bad rap. People say it’s too fluffy, a waste of money, not measurable, and just not hard enough. But team bonding can be at the heart of many drivers of business growth.

Attracting talent is the single greatest challenge to sustainable business growth. A great team atmosphere can help solve it. A happy workforce that ‘wows’ customers helps build lifetime customers and team bonding can help deliver this.

The subconscious mind processes faster when in a positive state, generating more creative and valuable ideas.

These are both the benefits of team bonding and give insight to how to do it well. It can be fun but it must also be constructive and intentional. Be clear on why you’re doing it and what benefits you might get from it. Then, choose how to do it in line with those things.

Mike Covey, Vice President and Managing Director for Henry Schein ANZ

Fostering a team environment is not a set and forget exercise. Building a team that’s strong, supportive and high performing takes a consistent approach from the top down – the annual team outing simply won’t cut it.

Team bonding is built through a culture of genuine care and respect for people and results, where each individual knows where they stand and what’s expected of them. Communicating the overarching business strategy and goals is crucial to achieving this in your organisation.

Also, never underestimate the power of CSR initiatives to foster a positive culture of collaboration and support in your team. By being transparent and practicing what you preach, your team will feel empowered to grow the business as one powerful unit.

Grant Emanuel, Marketing Director, International, Chamberlain Group

When your team is spread across multiple locations and countries it can be a real challenge to ensure that everyone sees and understands the organisation’s vision and goals.

To ensure a united approach to our most recent campaign kick-off we brought the whole team together; 100 staff from Australia and New Zealand. With paint brushes in-hand the group was divided into 25 teams of four to bring our future strategy to life through art.

Each of the 25 team paintings tells a visual story of where our company is heading – together it is our roadmap for success. The opportunity to collaborate with new faces, talk and share insights on what our organisation wants to achieve was invaluable.

Every Chamberlain Group office now has a life size copy of this unique artwork – it’s a daily reminder for each team member of the role they have played in defining our future, and a compass for achieving our goals.

Nir Gabay, Elsight managing director Nir Gabay (ASX: ELS)

Enabling a culture of collaborative innovation is at the heart of everything we do at Elsight because we recognise its importance in fostering and sustaining our business’ growth over the long term. Each member of our team has a wealth of knowledge, contacts and expertise in key sectors that are critical for us as we look to expand the business, and it’s important for us to continue to cultivate this through team bonding and regular team rituals or brainstorming sessions to inspire collaboration. I am proud to be part of a management team with over 50 years of extensive technology, engineering, sales and operations management experience, and we think it is absolutely critical that we nurture our business growth, not only by utilising these exceptional skills and knowledge, but also by allowing for them to shared amongst our team because team collaboration is the key to our success.

Uzair Moosa, CEO of Hey You

Through my years working at big corporate companies CISCO and KPMG, I’ve discovered that team bonding is absolutely essential to growing your business. I believe staff who work well together are productive and driven. While there are group training sessions that can be run through companies who specialise in work offsites, it’s definitely not as easy for startups to set aside part of their budget for these.

At Hey You, we’ve introduced ‘lunch and learn’ sessions whereby employees can teach others from their experience. This means anything from learning how to build excel models, create an event budget or run sheet, tactical tips for time management and more. Hosting these with more fun and interactive ‘how-to’ topics such as ‘how to flip the perfect burger’ can also make for refreshing Friday afternoons with the bonus of team bonding, and your staff will also appreciate the down time.

Ken Kencevski, CEO and Founder of Devika

I am a big fan of the saying “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. For us word-of-mouth has been the most valuable part of our business growth strategy and looking after our staff has been key to this. When we take care of our employees, they then look after our clients well. It’s that simple. At Devika we do this through offering flexible working arrangements, providing access to the latest technology, hosting internal hackathons, having everyone in the team share their successes for the week, inviting highly respected advisors to visit the office for assistance/sound-boarding, and above all, we create an engaging and supportive workplace that is committed to learning.

Nicholas Bernhardt, CEO and co-founder of Informed 365

Working in the rapidly evolving areas of supply chain management, business intelligence and climate change resilience, our team has to be highly agile, innovative and collaborative. Over the years we have developed a company culture of inclusion, fairness, diversity and tolerance, which fosters a feeling of togetherness and shared values and goals in the workplace. We believe this approach has encouraged a culture of more imagination, experimentation, creativity and better ideas. The workplace can often be an environment where seemingly random people are tasked to work together effectively. Team bonding ensures all members are comfortable with each other and can communicate openly resulting in a more productive and creative workplace. Successful team-building events not only bring people closer together, but they also lead to higher performing teams and business success.

Albert Wong, executive director of DC Alliance

Team collaboration is a critical part of my leadership ethos at DC Alliance and flows into everything that we do as a firm. With a focus on engineering led design, we have an experienced facility management team with in-house technical personnel (electrical, HVAC, control system, cybersecurity and engineering) all of whom have a plethora of skills and expertise that are critical to our business growth and strategic priorities over the next 12-24 months.

When it comes to nurturing our business growth in Australia and helping to acutely realise our market potential, I think cross-team collaboration and bonding is crucial because it allows us to adeptly ensure the ongoing transfer of knowledge and skills that form the critical pillars underpinning our success and the business’ long term growth aspirations.

With innovation at our core, our team specialises in the development of Tier certified colocation data centre facilities. We use leading edge technologies to work collaboratively with our clients, achieving positive commercial outcomes for them by employing innovative, engineered solutions. Having a collaborative team culture ensures that we are always on the front foot when it comes to nurturing our business growth and it means that we can deliver the best possible outcomes for our clients with a high performing and successful team angling to become a market leader in data centre lifecycle management.

Yanir Yakutiel, CEO and founder of Lumi

The most important advice I can give is to invest in the right people. As a small business ourselves, we’re fortunate to have developed a diverse and dynamic team – it’s been paramount to Lumi’s success.

To inspire new connections, we generally take everyone outside the office. We go for team lunches or dinners, which enables us to communicate in a more informal setting. This allows for team bonding to happen organically; it doesn’t feel so forced.

We always make sure to celebrate achievements and events such as staff birthdays. Taking the time to appreciate each employee makes them feel acknowledged and contributes to an overall culture of engagement.

We will be rolling out weekly individual meetings to see where we can further enhance our productivity and overall staff satisfaction. It’s also a great opportunity for managers to get people connected to the vision and to emphasise how their work contributes to the overall business goals.

Haggai Alon, Founder and CEO of Security Matters (ASX: SMX) 

I have always worked hard to create an equal, approachable and diverse environment where people feel they can speak and be listened to as it is essential for their personal and professional development as well as the development of the business. By hiring the right staff that have a lot to offer technically and culturally means their views and suggestions will naturally add value.

I believe it is absolutely imperative for ongoing business development that your staff, and this includes all ranks, feel they add value and are part of a team that is working towards a mutual goal harmoniously. Ultimately these are the people that are going to put in the work to get the business where you want it to be and it’s just all round more pleasant all round when you have an office full of happy people.

A great example of this in action is during brainstorming exercises. These are frequently done within businesses and are very good and bringing out new ideas. This is because one person doesn’t have all the answers and we have to work together.

Monica Watt, Chief Human Resources Officer, ELMO Software

Any good business leader knows that what makes a business isn’t its products or services, but rather its people. And while a whopping 85% of company leaders are making employee engagement a strategic priority, only 31% of staff feel that this is actually being prioritised, according to a recent Deloitte study.

Values-based leadership and team bonding is fundamental to employee loyalty, innovation and creative passion. When an employee discovers that their own personal values are aligned with their colleagues’ and leaders’, a meaningful connection is built based on trust. Any internal event which encourages employees to have non-work related conversations, discover each other’s interests and engage outside of the office is best practice. As a result, teams become less hierarchical and with a shared purpose and goal, they will invest their renewed passion into what they are doing, naturally becoming more productive. Alignment in the collective’s goals and long term vision of the business can only benefit business growth.